A remix project that challenges three Australian authors to rediscover and re-imagine lesser-known works drawn from the public domain; a collaboration between authors across eras and media.
Rumours of My Death consists of three distinct works:
Chapters from a new work by Anna Maria Bunn and Mez Breeze are being published weekly here at the if:book site.
A [[Non]] Guardian Age is a text that mashes prose with poetry and code while it ‘refashions’ Bunn’s original prose, passing commentary as it goes: on time, on the country, and on the original work itself.
Henry Savery—twice convicted forger, Australia’s first novelist, and ne’er-do-well about town—took up a digital residency at the 2015 Brisbane Writers Festival.
Via the handle @HenrySavery, the author made the long journey from Tasmania's Isle of the Dead thanks to his trusty horse, Richard Flanagan. Once in Brisbane, he attended events and chatted with authors and attendees, making observations on contemporary writing and publishing culture, and nursing raging hangovers thanks to John Marsden along the way. Admittedly, all of this was quite an achievement for an author who has resided underground since 1842.
We collected some of his finer observations and interactions here.
The author behind @HenrySavery was finally revealed on 10th October 2015 as writer, fellow raconteur, and social media legend, Christopher Currie.
At an encore performance at the Whispers salon event, Chris read from Savery's seminal work Quintus Servinton.
Now we can finally allow Henry to return to rest in the peace he rightfully deserves.
READ HENRY'S EXPLOITS | WATCH CHRIS'S READING FROM QUINTUS SERVINTON
Sure, Marcus Clarke wrote the iconic Australian convict tale, His Natural Life (often retitled For the Term of His Natural Life), but he was also a prolific short story writer, commentator, and columnist until his all-too-early death in 1881.
Much of his writing strikes a chord with the working freelancer, full of energy and wit and looming deadlines. His stories are fuelled by a cocky confidence in the new nation emerging around him, but hints of anxiety gnaw at its edges.
I will tell you, my most esteemed public. I do not publish this volume because I have a “high moral purpose in view;” I do not publish it at the “request of a few of my friends;” I do not even publish it because I “feel that it will supply a long-felt social want;” I publish it simply because I think it will sell.
Has a copy of this peculiar book fallen into your possession? Perhaps you would like to know more about it.
We keep referring to the term ‘remix’, which we have of course borrowed from popular music. Remixing is distinct from editing. An edit seeks to strengthen and clarify the original author’s intention. A remix is made with the understanding that the remixer will intentionally change the original work as a creative act. Though a good remix contains recognisable traces of its source material, it is a wholly new work and its authorship is shared.
Remixing is also an inherently critical act. Like it or not, the choices every remixer makes—of what to keep and what to change—counter the original author’s vision for the work. But any given remix need not be considered an improvement or detraction. It doesn’t replace the source material. It’s just different. It’s a new version.
Since 1995, Mez Breeze’s award-winning digital writing/games have been influential in shaping interactive genres and held in Collections at The World Bank and National Library of Australia. Mez runs @MezBreezeDesign, is a Senior Research Affiliate with The Humanities and Critical Code Studies Lab and a 2014 New Media Writing Prize Judge.
Anna Maria Bunn (1808–1889) was the anonymous author of The Guardian: a Tale (by an Australian) (1838), the first novel published on mainland Australia. Bunn’s authorship was established after an historian found a copy of the book in which her son had noted his mother’s authorship.
Simon Groth is a writer and editor of fiction and non. His books include Concentrate and Off The Record: 25 Years of Music Street Press. As manager of if:book Australia, Simon writes and speaks regularly on the future of the book and took the role of lead writer for the 24-Hour Book.
Marcus Clarke (1846–1881) was a novelist and poet best known for his novel that would later become known under the title For the Term of His Natural Life. Clarke wrote regularly for newspapers and the theatre and published several collections of short stories.
Christopher Currie's first book, The Ottoman Motel, was released by Text Publishing in May 2011. His second book, Clancy of The Undertow, will be released by Text Publishing on December 9, 2015.
Henry Savery (1791 – 1842) was a convict transported to Port Arthur, Tasmania. There he wrote the thinly fictionalised Qunitus Servinton in 1830, making him Australia’s first novelist. It is generally agreed that his writing is more important for its historical value than its literary merit.